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Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Mourinho expecting tough cup test

Dermot Corrigan, Spain Correspondent

Jose Mourinho has said the spate of injuries within the Real Madrid squad means the majority of his regulars will play in their Copa del Rey tie at Alcoyano on Wednesday night.

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Mourinho said previously that he planned to rest five players, but the majority of his senior squad would be in the team to face the minnows despite their current heavy La Liga and Champions League schedule.

"I am not calling up Pepe, Sergio Ramos, Mesut Ozil, Xabi Alonso or Cristiano Ronaldo," Mourinho said. "The others are in the squad because we have no more players.

"They do not allow us to play with less than seven players from the first team. With the injuries we have we have no other players, those who are there will come with us."

Semi-professional Alcoyano currently sit fifth in their Segunda B section, after defeating Sant Andreu 2-0 at home last weekend. Extra seating was this week being installed at their El Collao stadium to meet demand for tickets, while the club's president has called it the biggest game in their history.

Mourinho is adamant that given the likely raucous atmosphere he expected his team to be tested and have to finish the tie in next month's second leg back in Madrid.

"It will not be easy to decide the tie there," Mourinho said. "It is never easy to go to a ground full of motivation and enthusiasm and finish the tie there. We want to get through, if we can win tomorrow all the better, but if we return with an open result it will not be bad. I respect the motivation of these teams. It will not be easy for those who play."

Mourinho said he would add just two of Madrid's Castilla youngsters to his match squad in midfielders Jose Rodriguez, 17, and Alex Fernandez, 20 and the clamour from many in the Madrid media to include more home-grown youngsters in the first team - for example Nacho Fernandez, 22, at left-back instead of Michael Essien in recent games - was misplaced.

"If a player of 23 or 24 years has not reached the level to be in Madrid's squad, he will not arrive at 26, 27 or 28," he said. "If he is younger, you are expecting that he will develop completely and can reach the team.

"Fabinho (19) is at the point of arriving or not, the same with Jose Rodriguez and Alex. They have potential and the age to end up as first team players."

One youngster who is now a regular in Madrid's match-day squad is Raphael Varane, a €10 million signing from Lens in summer 2011, who has played 90 minutes in Madrid's last three games and looks likely to start again in Alcoy.

Mourinho said that anyone paying attention would see he gave a chance to Varane, 19, to prove himself with the senior side.

"Varane made his debut last year against Rayo Vallecano," the Portuguese said. "He has not made his debut this year. He already has 10, 15 or 20 games playing with the first team. His great performances do not come as a surprise to those who have been paying attention."

Mourinho also deflected questions about which of Madrid's six shortlisted players (Ronaldo, Ramos, Alonso, Iker Casillas, Karim Benzema) should win this year's Ballon d'Or, saying the judges should now be left to make their decisions.

"For me that subject is closed, with no more campaigns in favour of whoever deserves to win," he said. "A period of respect for those who will vote has begun. We will respect the final result. For me the most important thing is to win games."




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